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Buckle, P.W., G.C. David, and A.C. Kimber,
Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine
, 61:12,1079-1084, December 1990.

* Reprints may be obtained from Peter W. Buckle, Ph.D., Lecturer, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4XH, England.


"Safe and successful operation of flight displays and controls is, in part, dependent on the anthropometric characteristics of the pilots with respect to the design of a particular aircraft. This paper describes the approach required to optimise this fit and provides guidelines for both those responsible for design and those who select pilot recruits. The major results reported are those for a British population, although the aircraft considered (Boeing 737-200, 747, 757 and Lockheed TriStar) are used by airlines throughout the world. The study shows that limitations in design considerably reduced the pool of potential recruits with the appropriate anthropometric characteristics. The selection criteria, based on functional seated eye height, might exclude 73% of the British 19-65-year-old female population and 13% of the male population."

"The following study described how we have derived anthropometric criteria for trainee pilot selection. The paper also examines how anthropometric selection criteria and design criteria for flight decks are related. Finally, it considers the implication of these anthropometric criteria for the different populations from which civil aircraft pilots are recruited.

If population differences have not been fully accounted for in the design process, then selection of users is required and generally takes one of two forms. The first is "trial and error," in which users find they are unable to achieve certain tasks at some point during training. The second approach, and that described here, relies on a considered and scientific use of available data sources ..., complemented by a study of the operational tasks required of pilots with respect to anthropometric dimensions, including reach demands.

The latter approach was adopted to provide selection criteria for a major international airline which was about to start a recruitment programme for trainee pilots. The airline was operating a fleet which included Boeing 737, 747, and 757 aircraft as well as the Lockheed TriStar. It was considered desirable that all those individuals who were recruited could meet the anthropometric requirements of flying any aircraft in the fleet.

In the course of the research, we were unable to ascertain the anthropometric criteria used by the plane manufacturers in designing cockpit layout, although these must exist. The airline that commissioned the study was similarly unable to locate the manufacturers' guidance in this area. As a result, our criteria have been derived without prior knowledge or expectation of the manufacturers' criteria. Further, although anthropometric criteria have been published by a number of authorities, including the U.S. Federal Air Regulations ..., the functional dimensions used to establish them are not clearly defined.

The aims of this study were therefore to 1) examine the critical clearance and reach requirements for the satisfactory operation of the flight deck equipment; and 2) use these data to propose anthropometric selection criteria for trainee pilot recruitment."


     Measurements in Training, Full Flight Simulators

     Definition of Measurements

     Fitting Trial

     Derivation of Design and Selection Criteria


     Generation of Stature Criteria


"It is important for both employers and candidates that anthropometric selection criteria should be established scientifically if they are to be used as an initial selection technique. This will allow ineligible candidates to be excluded with and acceptable degree of confidence. It will also prevent the unnecessary rejection of those who are otherwise capable of meeting the recruitment specification.

The results of this study have shown that effective flight deck operation will be beyond the capabilities of a much greater proportion of the female population than of the male population.

Design stature limitations can be related to stature data for most national groups. In this way the group having a 50% probability of meeting the operational requirements can be established. In calculating the minimum and maximum percentiles, it is apparent that the closer together they are, the greater are the problems of design transfer. When the range of the population accommodated appears to restrictive, further anthropometric research is advisable.

An additional factor which must be considered and reviewed regularly, is that of secular trends in stature. Such studies have shown that the mean stature of young adults in developed countries has increased by approximately 10 mm per decade during the past 30 years ... .

This study has shown that an increase in the available selection pool could be effected if further consideration were given to functional dimensions during the design process. In view of this, the impact of transfer of the design to other national groups requires further consideration.

The methodology for establishing anthropometric  selection criteria may be used in the evaluation of new aircraft types to ascertain if effective operation will be limited to individuals of particular anthropometric dimensions. If the requirements of the new aircraft are too restrictive or its implications for future recruitment are too severe it could result in the need for remedial changes being identified and requested of the manufacturer."




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